Puppy Raisers – FAQ

Jennifer and Leader Dog Sawyer

How long will it take to get a puppy once I submit my application?

The time it takes to place a puppy with a new raiser depends on the volume of puppy raiser applicants and the number of puppies available. In general, the wait is usually six months for Labradors; nine months for golden retriever or cross breeds; and over a year for German shepherds.

Is there an age requirement for raising a puppy?

If you are interested in raising a puppy and under the age of 18, please ask a parent or guardian to complete the application. A parent or guardian must also be present to sign a contract when you pick up the puppy.

Will I get to name my puppy?

Yes. As a puppy raiser, you will name your puppy.

Will the puppy be spayed or neutered?

No. Because all of our puppies have the potential to be placed into our breeding program, the puppy will not be spayed or neutered.

Can I raise a puppy if I work full time?

Yes. Working full time does not prevent you from raising a puppy. However, if the puppy is going to be confined to a small area for several hours at a time, it would be beneficial to have a trustworthy friend or family member stop by to feed and let the puppy out.

Can I share the responsibility of raising a puppy with a friend or family member that does not live in my household?

No. Consistency is important when raising a puppy, so it is important that the puppy remain in the same household. However, you may occasionally ask another raiser to “puppysit” for short periods of time.

What are the physical requirements for raising a puppy?

The role of a puppy raiser is an active, physical position requiring coordination, strength, balance and stamina. While working with your puppy, you will regularly walk forward and backward, travel on stairs and squat and bend. You may need to lift a puppy weighing 10 pounds or, on occasion, an adult dog weighing up to 60 pounds.

Can I raise a puppy if I have another dog in my home?

Yes. Another dog or puppy in the home could be a companion and mentor for the puppy. However, if you have a puppy six months old or younger, we would wait before placing a puppy into your home. Puppies close in age often form a strong bond when raised together, making it difficult when you return your puppy for training.

Can I walk the puppy with my pet dog?

To develop your puppy’s self-confidence, it is important to consider opportunities to walk and socialize your puppy independently from your pet dog. However, if going for a casual walk, you may take both your pet dog and puppy.

Can I take the puppy to a dog park?

Dog parks should be avoided. Examples of safer options are fenced-in tennis courts, baseball diamonds or backyards with age- and size-appropriate dogs that you know.

Do you have to be a previous dog owner to raise a puppy?

No. It is not required that you be a previous dog owner to raise a puppy. We provide resources, such as a puppy raising manual, instructional DVD and classes for raisers living in Metro Detroit. We also have puppy counselors throughout the United States who host meetings, outings and training sessions for puppy raisers.

Will Leader Dog visit my home if I become a puppy raiser?

No. We have found that the type of home or environment you live in does not determine the success of your puppy. The time, energy and effort you put into raising your puppy have a greater impact on its overall success.

Do I need a fenced yard?

No. A fenced yard is not a required to raise a puppy. However, if you do not have a fenced yard, you will need to have the puppy on a leash or long line when taking it outside.

My yard has an underground fence. Can I use this with my puppy?

No. Since an underground fence does not prevent other dogs from entering your yard and may cause an alert or shock at an inappropriate time (such as when the puppy is exploring a bush or greeting a neighbor), it is not to be used with our puppies.

What will I feed my puppy?

We recommend Purina Pro Plan products as they offer a complete and balanced diet and are readily available to our clients worldwide.

Why does Leader Dog use Purina products to feed its dogs?

We use this food because of the high quality ingredients, comprehensive nutrients, Purina's commitment to continued research and development and the fact that it is widely available (since our clients are worldwide). Over the many years we have used this product, it has been very good for our dogs.

Who pays for the puppy’s food and other expenses?

The cost of raising a puppy is shared between you and Leader Dog. We supply a training collar, leash and toys. You are responsible for the puppy’s food, crate, and routine veterinary care (if you are not bringing the puppy to Leader Dog for veterinary care). You are also responsible for: replacement toys, collars and leash; travel expenses to and from Leader Dog for puppy classes and/or meetings organized by puppy counselors; and obedience training.

Will I take the puppy everywhere I go? Can my puppy go into all businesses?

No. While socialization is very important for your puppy, it must also learn to spend some time alone to prepare for its stay in the kennel. Additionally, unlike working guide dogs, businesses are not required to allow our puppies onto their premises—it will be your responsibility to get permission from the owner or manager of an establishment before entering with a puppy.

What do I do with my puppy if I go on vacation?

If you are traveling out-of-town, another raiser may be able to watch your puppy. Other options include a family member, friend or reputable kennel.

Are the costs of raising a puppy tax deductible?

Leader Dog is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, so many of the expenses related to raising a puppy are tax deductible. You should consult a tax professional to receive the proper IRS requirements for documentation.

Is it difficult to return the puppy for training?

No one can answer this question better than our raisers:

  • “Handing over the leash is perhaps the most difficult part of puppy raising, but we focus on the big picture and remember it is what we are giving, not what we are giving up.”
  • “The sadness I feel giving up a puppy is nothing compared to the joy of the people gaining independence.”

What happens to a puppy that doesn’t become a guide dog?

Due to medical, temperament or work-related issues, not all dogs make it as Leader Dogs. Many of our dogs who do not become guide dogs are “career changed” and are adopted by other agencies to work as service, custom or rescue dogs. If the dog does not begin a different career, you will be given the opportunity to adopt it as your pet.

Puppy Raiser Application

If you are interested in raising a puppy, please view our or call 888-777-5332.